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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Why I Vandalized the Horse Barn

My family had a four-stall horse barn, and a friend and I decided to build a fort in the rafters. We collected plywood planks from every willing neighborhood donor. I borrowed my dad's hammer and nails, and we built our grandiose hideout within a few hours. I pilfered some leftover carpet scraps, and voilà—we had a carpeted hideout.

Only, one problem. The copious amount of dust. Confession: a few years prior, I thought I'd "help" my dad by hammering all the knots out of the wood plank walls. In my child perspective, those knots were funny-looking and ugly.

My innocent vandalism provided our horses with natural air-conditioning in the summer and a frigid breeze in the winter. The combination of the horses kicking up dirt and the fresh breeze swirling that dust around the barn rendered our new hideout unbreathable. Had I only understood the value of those ugly imperfections.

Research turned up an interesting fact about these funny looking defects:

“Dead branches drop off of healthy, living trees all the time, and wood knots appear in the trunk where branches died. Knots are imperfections that cause living wood grain to grow around them. These imperfections are just part of what makes wood a beautiful material with which to work, but can also contribute to possible defects in structural strength for construction lumber.” - Ron Smith of Wagner Meters [emphasis mine].

I read the above description and, immediately, the biblical symbol of trees representing people took on new life.

“They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do,” Psalm 1:3a NLT.

How many human trees have dead branches that God needs to lop off? 

Imperfections Cause Growth

Do I question God's ability to work His masterpiece in a way that enables me to do the good works He planned for me long ago? He knew all along how I'd turn out. So could I not fairly complain, “Why on earth did you make me this way?”

“...notice how the grain pattern slopes up to 90 degrees to get around wood knots. Remarkable. This is why many consumers enjoy having decorative wood with knots,” - Ron Smith.

If natural wood with knots is this remarkable, how much more remarkable are you and I, given that we begin life made in God's image and then are re-created and transformed by His Spirit? At the same time, our imperfections prevent us from pridefully boasting about our good works. Instead, our “knots” make it so that any display of power must be seen as God’s, not ours.

This beautiful image of knotted wood deepens my understanding of how His power works best in my imperfection. His grace is always sufficient in all situations, but especially when a personal weakness has the potential to defeat me.

Do your imperfections embarrass you—former lifestyle, insecurities, bad choices, etc? Kingdom people value authenticity. Knots keep us authentic.

“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves,” Genesis 3:7 NLT

To face your shame takes a brave step, an option Adam and Eve ran from, and instead used fig leaves to hide their “knots.” But if you surrender what shames you into the hands of the Master Pruner, He can and will refashion them into your most attractive feature.

Do you view your imperfections as knots to be hammered out? As features you have to hide from others?

Wearing authenticity is more attractive than sporting fig leaves. Ask for Heaven's perspective, and see how God will refashion the unique “grain” of your wood until it beautifully waves around that very imperfection as He refines and perfects you.

Copyright © 05/22/19 J. A. Marx, used with permission.

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